Public Comments for 02/02/2022 Transportation - Subcommittee # 3 Highway Safety and Policy
HB88 - Golf carts and utility vehicles; Town of Ivor authorized to allow operation on highways.
I am writing in regards to HB 88 on behalf of the Town of Ivor. It is my understanding that there is opposition to the town’s request that we be added to a list of other small towns that are exempted from the police department requirement. We initially asked for this exemption due to the fact that a precedent had already been set for approval, as evidenced by the eight other towns being exempted from this requirement. The Town of Ivor is just under 1.1 square miles in area and just over 300 in population. A portion of this area is along Route 460, which obviously is irrelevant to this request. Therefore, the area which we would like to designate for this usage is less than one square mile in area. The speed limit for this area is already 25 MPH and would stay as that. In our preliminary discussions on this matter, council has indicated the willingness to establish a permit system, that will only be available to town residents. Additionally, we are willing to limit use to the “side streets” of town. This will specifically disallow usage on Rt. 460, the very outer limits of town that have a 35 MPH speed limit, as well as on Main Street, where the speed limit is still 25 MPH, but also which is our only street with any measurable amount of traffic. Delegate Wachsmann has been in contact with our Sheriff, Josh Wyche, and he also has not issued an opposition to our request. The health and safety of my residents is my single highest priority as mayor. I would not be bringing this request before you if I were not confident that we would abide by the rules already set forth by the state and that this would not pose a danger to anyone. I appreciate your consideration of my comments and the town’s request. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if there are any further questions or concerns.
HB838 - Lane filtering; motorcycles.
Lane splitting not only reduces traffic congestion (due to bikes moving through, but also due to a reduced number of bikes overheated on the shoulder). It allows a safe place for bikes to move ahead without risking being rear ended, and allows for better use of the already overcrowded roadways in northern Virginia.
The AMA fully supports H.B. 838 and requests the committee endorse its passage. The AMA places significant emphasis on motorcycle operator and passenger safety. On every type of public roadway, motorcyclists encounter challenges from other roadway users and must be constantly vigilant to potentially unsafe conditions around them. One of the most dangerous situations for any on-highway motorcyclist is being caught in congested traffic, where stop-and-go vehicles, distracted and inattentive vehicle operators and environmental conditions pose an increased risk of physical contact with another vehicle. Even minor contact under such conditions can be disastrous for motorcyclists. Allowing motorcyclists to move between stopped or slowed traffic prevents them from becoming victims of a rear-end collision. Del. Tony Wilt introduced H.B. 838, which will authorize motorcyclists to lane filter under certain circumstances. Operators of a two-wheel motorcycle would be able to pass another vehicle that is stopped or traveling at no more than 10 mph in the same lane, or if there are two lanes of travel in the same direction, as long as the motorcyclist did not exceed 20 mph and can execute such a maneuver safely. The Motorcycle Lane-splitting and Safety in California Study, conducted by the University of California, Berkley, and cited lane-splitting motorcyclists were less likely to suffer from head, torso or fatal injuries than other motorcyclists. As indicated by the lead researcher, a delta of 15 mph or less, up to a surrounding traffic speed of 50 mph, did not result in any associated changes to crash occurrence rates or injury types. The proposed legislation, which is more conservative than the practices outlined in the Berkeley study, has been crafted to ensure that the speed delta between motorcyclists and other vehicles was supported by findings in this study to ensure motorcyclist safety was a driving force in this effort. During the summer of 2021, the AMA participated in the VA DMV Lane Filtering study. The group was presented with crash statistics from DMV’s Highway Safety Office. Dr. Kathleen Hancock of Virginia Tech further analyzed these statistics for rear-end motorcycle impacts, which resulted in 12.5% of motorcyclist fatalities and 10.4% of injuries in 2020. Unfortunately, some stakeholders in the study group expressed opinions that lane filtering would only have limited benefits in the prevention of rear-end collisions. However, the AMA strongly believes that any efforts to reduce motorcyclist fatalities helps support the Virginia’s “Toward Zero Deaths” vision. Lane filtering as a crash mitigation strategy is a robust approach to motorcycle safety. The AMA believes motorcycles can absolutely be the primary mode of transportation for many Virginians and the other road users would benefit from more people making the choice to ride a motorcycle. Compared to cars, motorcycles have less impact on roadway degradation, are more efficient users of space and offer higher average fuel economy. Motorcycles help every other road user get where they are going more efficiently on less-degraded roads with more available parking at their destination. California, Utah and Montana have each enacted lane filtering in their states. The AMA will continue to advocate for lane filtering in Virginia because it remains an important safety strategy for motorcyclists, while also reducing congestion for all road users.
HB66 - Secondary roads; use of certain utility vehicles.